Charles Dickens classic ‘Oliver!’ comes to life on Syracuse Stage for the holidays
The rollicking “Consider Yourself,” the heartwarming “Where is Love” and the stirring “Who Will Buy”-these familiar tunes from the family musical “Oliver!” will ring from the stage of the Archbold Theatre as Syracuse Stage and the Drama Department once again join forces for a unique holiday presentation.
Based on “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens and with book, music and lyrics by Lionel Bart, “Oliver!” will be directed by Robert Moss. “Oliver!” runs from Nov. 27 through Dec. 30.
“Oliver!” sparks the imagination with characters and situations only Dickens could create. Oliver Twist, the Artful Dodger, Fagin, Nancy and Bill Sikes come to life in all their humor, glory and greed in a production that will shy away from neither revelry nor reality. Two local boys will share the role of Oliver Twist: Wesley Callihan of Liverpool and Matthew Dengler of Baldwinsville.
Several of the artists who also helped make last season’s “Peter Pan” a success will be returning to work on “Oliver!” Anthony Salatino, who directed and choreographed “Peter Pan,” will be choreographer and Rodney Scott Hudson, known for his lively portrayal of Captain Hook, will perform as Fagin, the head of a gang of pickpockets. Diane Adams McDowell will return as music supervisor. Corinne Aquilina, the musical director, will join them on the artistic team.
Hudson, a musical theatre professor with the Drama Department, has appeared at Syracuse Stage and at regional theatres across the country. Alicia Irving plays Nancy, the street girl who tries to protect Oliver. Her Broadway credits include “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” “Side Show,” “Les Miserables” 10th Anniversary Company and “Sunset Blvd.” Original Company. The evil Bill Sykes will be played by Lance Phillips, who most recently was seen as King Arthur in “Camelot” at the Merry Go Round Playhouse. Irving and Phillips also play the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry, the undertaker and his wife.
Josh Young will play the Artful Dodger, who befriends Oliver and brings him to join Fagin’s gang. Young is a junior musical theatre major. Ric Stoneback plays the role of Mr. Bumble, the head of Oliver’s orphanage and doubles in the role of Dr. Grimwig. Lynn Eldredge plays the Widow Corney, the matron of the orphanage, who later marries Mr. Bumble, and doubles in the role of the housekeeper, Mrs. Bedwin.
Malcolm Ingram, a professor in the Drama Department, will play the role of Mr. Brownlow, Oliver’s long lost grandfather.
Playing the roles of townspeople, servants and Fagin’s gang members is a talented ensemble of Drama Department students. They include junior Emily Agy (Old Sally, Fagin’s gang); junior Jordan Bass (Bulls Eye the dog, Fagin’s gang); sophomore Greg Cicchino (Charlie Bates, Fagin’s gang); sophomore Jeffrey Robert Dublinske (Knife Grinder, Fagin’s gang); sophomore Nicole Dupras (Rose Seller, Fagin’s gang); junior Ronit Feldman (Milkmaid, Fagin’s gang); senior Lauren Fruchter (Corney’s cat, Fagin’s gang and Dance Captain); sophomore Meaghan Ludlow (Bet); sophomore Gabriel Matthews (Noah Claypole, Fagin’s gang); senior Stephanie Schweitzer (Charlotte, Fagin’s gang); and sophomore Jonathan Verge (Officer Fang, Strawberry Seller and Fagin’s gang).
In another unique partnership, Syracuse Stage has cast a special chorus of local children to play the orphans in the opening sequence “Food Glorious Food.” They are Susan Berenstein of Jamesville, Ryan Ferguson of East Syracuse, Jason Ott and Natalie Ott of Baldwinsville and Syracuse residents Rachel Cary, Betty Corene Etheredge, Nicholas Landers, William Masiclat, Mattie Voorhies, Tom Voorhies, Julius A. Williams and Tre K. Williams.
Creating the scenery will be designer Erhard Rom. Rom’s set for “Oliver!” will consist of several brick towers, that with varying backdrops transform into scenes set in the orphanage, London streets, Fagin’s hideaway and Mr. Brownlow’s townhouse. Lighting the set is Phil Monat. Costume designer Jared Leese has met the challenge of dressing multiple actors who change roles. Jonathan Herter will coordinate the sound elements.
Single tickets are available for sale now and, as with previous holiday offerings, “Oliver!” will not be included in Syracuse Stage’s subscription package. Many performances of last season’s “Peter Pan” sold out, so audiences are encouraged to purchase “Oliver!” tickets early. Tickets are $15 for children 12 and younger and $16 to $18 for youths 12 to 18. Ticket prices range for adults from $16 to $38. Tickets are available at the box office at Syracuse Stage, by phone at 443-3275 or online at Syracusestage.org.